by Jay Lund
Here is a partial collection of truisms on water management. These are common ideas that seem obviously true (particularly in the western US), but still offer insights and perspective. The original sources of these are unknown (although apocryphal citations are common). Any that I think are original to me, are probably not.
- Water flows downhill, but uphill towards money.
- There is rarely a shortage of water, but often a shortage of cheap water.
- Some water is essential to life. But too much is also unhealthy.
- Silver bullets tend to sink in water.
- Progress is when the new problems are less bad than the old problems would have become.
- Your water use is a “grab” and a “waste.” My water use is a need, a nab, and a sacred right.
- Water is often like money and manure – if you spread it around, many good things can grow, but heaping it all in one place can cause big problems.
- Irrigation inefficiency can be good for aquifer water quantity, but bad for aquifer water quality, defying simple judgements.
- Some changes in water availability with climate change are easily expected, and some will be unexpected. We won’t know the changes exactly for decades after they have become noticeable, if ever. Changes also are unlikely to be constant, or to end.
- A dedication of water and land alone is slightly more likely to create a desirable ecosystem than pile of wood, steel, and concrete is to create a home or a bridge. Resources must be organized and artfully employed, as well as provided, to get what we want.